Sunday, January 13, 2008

BoS Re-Org and Regular Meetings - 1/7/2008

All sworn in and ready to serve!

Erik Chuss and Robert Egolf, Forks newest Supervisors, were sworn in by Northampton County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Robert Freedberg.   Both Chuss and Egolf were surrounded by family as they took their oaths of office. 



This year, the Board quickly elected officers and voted on positions and appointments.  Sara Satullo (Express Times) and Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call) covered the meeting.  Please read their articles.

For 2008:

  • Chairman - David Howell (vote 4:1 - Nicholas cast the nay)
  • Vice Chairman - Erik Chuss (vote 5:0)
  • Secretary/Treasurer - Bob Egolf (vote 5:0)

PNC Bank and PLGIT were voted in as depositories of Forks Township. Signatures of either 2 Supervisors or one Supervisor and the Township Manager are required for withdrawals.

  • Township Manager - Rick Schnaedter
  • Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer of the General Fund - NONE
  • Solicitor - Karl Kline ($140.00/hr)
  • Engineering Firm - Keystone Consulting Engineers (at fee schedule provided)
  • Township Engineer - Fred Hay (at fee schedule provided by KCE )
  • Auditing Firm - France, Anderson, Basile & Company, P.C.
  • Earned Income and L.S. Tax Collector - Mary Ann Kessler
  • Assistant Collector - Anne Bennett-Morse
  • Business Privilege Tax Collector - Sandi Rossi

The 2008 meeting schedules for the Board, the Planning Commission, and the Zoning Hearing Board were set also. The Board of Supervisors will meet on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7:30 PM with a possible third meeting (if necessary) on the fourth Thursday. Thirty or 60 minute workshops may be scheduled before or immediately after the regular meetings.

The Planning Commission will meet on the second Thursday at 7:00 PM and their workshop sessions, which will be treated in the same manner as regular meetings, are set for the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7:00 PM.

The Zoning Hearing Board will meet as needed on the second and third Mondays at 7:30 PM.  (Zoning Hearing notices are advertised on an individual basis.)

The meeting schedules for the Standing Committees (of the BoS) was established (by 4:1 vote - Nicholas cast the nay) as follows:

  • Public Safety - first Tuesday (of the month) - 5:00 PM
  • Finance & Administration - second and fourth Wednesday - 5:00 PM
  • Community Relations - second Monday - 6:00 PM
  • Parks & Recreation - fourth Thursday - 4:00 PM
  • Public Works - second Tuesday - 7:30 AM

PEMA’s Emergency Operations Plan was adopted.

More Appointments:

  • Emergency Management Coordinator - Richard Bassett
  • Assistant Emergency Management Coordinators - Greg Dorney & Tim Weis

The Board skipped payment of routine bills that may have penalties or interest if they are not paid before the next BoS meeting - because there were none to be paid.

The Municipal Building's daily hours (open the public) were set at 7:30 AM (corrected) - 4:30 PM Monday through Friday. Office employees’ hours range between 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM.  Hours for the Director of Public Works and for Public Works employees can vary from the standard hours (due to inclement weather).

Yet More Appointments:

  • Fire Chief - Bryan Weis
  • Deputy Fire Chief - Charles Gallagher
  • Zoning Enforcement Officer, Building Code Official - Tim Weis
  • Flood Plain Permit Officer - Chris Noll (and alternate Fred Hay) - Keystone Consulting Engineers
  • Assistant Zoning Officers - Loretta Fuehrer & Matt Miller
  • Sewer Enforcement Officer - Chris Noll, primary with Lisa Kern & Fred Hay as alternates, Keystone Consulting Engineers
  • Electrical Inspectors - Keystone Electrical Inspectors

The wages & benefits packages of both the uniformed (police) and non-uniformed employees were re-affirmed.

There was a lengthy discussion weighing the pros and cons of reappointing incumbents (to the Zoning Hearing Board and Planning Commission) who have served well and are already trained.  Nicholas' concern was that there may be someone more qualified than an incumbent and she wanted to interview all the candidates before making her choices.  She thought that perhaps one of the PC candidates might be well suited for the ZHB and she wanted to be able to ask that candidate to serve on the other board.  Chuss said that there is much training involved for the PC and that the incumbent, Carl Dicker, has already been through it and that he has served well.  Chuss also said that Ron Asteak is already immersed in the ongoing lawsuits before the ZHB.  Egolf called for individual votes.

The following (re)appointments were made:

  • Vacancy Board - Henning Holmgaard (vote 5:0)
  • Planning Commission - Carl Dicker (vote 4:1 - Nicholas cast the nay)
  • Zoning Hearing Board - Ron Asteak (vote 5:0)
  • Recreation Board - Edward Moore (vote 4:0 with Egolf abstaining)

Interviews for the remaining openings will be held beginning at 5:30 PM on Thursday, January 17th before the regular Board of Supervisors meeting.  The Zoning Hearing Board appointment will be made that night.  Planning Commission members will participate in the PC interviews and will forward their recommendation to the Board for the February 7th meeting.

Egolf said that he thought it important that the Board recognize the work of Tim Weis for his work as the Emergency Management Coordinator.  Egolf praised Weis' leadership during the weather related emergencies.  Egolf said, "As you can see, Forks survived."  He added that Tim has worked very hard for the Township and he hopes that his successor will do as good of a job.  Applause.


Supervisors Comments - none

Treasurer's Report - Secretary/Treasurer Egolf detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 4:1 vote (Nicholas cast the nay). Apparently there were two versions of the meeting agenda in the Supervisors' packets and Egolf read from the earlier one.  Howell noted that there were two debits from 2008, one for $39,948.83 and one for $103.76.  Finance Manager Farley was not there to explain what the two 2008 debits were. 

Nicholas asked Kline if the whole ordinance (for the Local Services Tax?) had to be advertised.  Kline said that it had to be advertised three times because it was a tax.  The cost was around $6.000. 

Standing Committee Reports:

  • Public Safety - Erik Chuss reported that the first committee meeting will be tomorrow at 5:00 PM.  He said too, that he met with Chief Dorney, Tim Weis, and Bryan Weis last week.  The meeting agenda includes discussion of the major issues facing the fire and police departments, the five-year plans, and emergency management coordination.  (Howell is the second Supervisor on the committee.)  Supervisor Nicholas thanked everyone on her (former) committee, especially Chief Dorney and Chief Weis, for their year of hard work.
  • Public Works - Don Miller said that the committee's meetings are mainly informational and that upcoming projects are discussed.  (Chuss is the second Supervisor on the committee.)
  • Parks & Recreation - David Howell said that the first committee meeting will be on Thursday January 24th at 4:00 PM.  Howell explained that Miller will remain on the committee because he is the "applicable department head."  The Township Manager is also a committee member. (Egolf is the second Supervisor on the committee.)
  • Community Relations - Bonnie Nicholas said that the committee's first meeting will be next Monday at 6:00 PM. (Miller is the second Supervisor on the committee.)
  • Finance & Administration - Robert Egolf noted that the members of the committee include Human Resources Manager Barb Bartek, Township Manager Rick Schnaedter, Finance Manager Jim Farley, and Zoning Officer Tim Weis. They will meet twice a month on the second and fourth Wednesdays at 5:00 PM. They will begin by setting goals for the year. (Nicholas is the second Supervisor on the committee.)

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter said that he received a copy of the proposed 2008 animal services contract and that in addition to increased fees, it includes cats.  He said that he has heard (via email) the same issue from other townships.  Schnaedter said that they are contacting the "attorney for animal welfare" for further explanation.  He expects a to have a report for the Board by the 17th.  Chuss asked how many dogs were picked up last year.  Schnaedter will get that information for the next meeting.

Schnaedter also said that the Forks Spring Quarterly won second place (for a class 1 township - there are 1300 eligible townships for class 1) in the PSATS Citizens Communication contest.  The winners list was published in the PSATS Township News.  Schnaedter congratulated the Community Relations committee and the efforts of the staff for winning the award.  Howell said that he is very proud of the staff and added, "We wrote it ourselves."  (PSATS = Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors)

Schnaedter announced, too, that the next Two Rivers COG meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 16th at 7:00 PM in the Palmer Municipal Building.  Previously Ackerman was the primary representative for Forks and Howell was the alternate.  Howell was elected to be the 2008 primary representative in a 5:0 vote.  Howell nominated Nicholas to be the alternate but she declined stating that she already has 13 meetings a month.  The alternate position was tabled.

Nicholas announced that the Forks Community Days Committee will hold their first meeting of 2008 on Monday, January 21st at 7:00 PM at the Community Center.  She said that volunteers are welcome. 

Engineer's Report:  Hay - No report.

Solicitor's Report:  Kline - No report.

Comments from the Public:  Resident Sandy Hanks said that the online version of the Township 2008 budget has Don Miller's salary as a line item under Community Center expenses.  She wondered how Miller is able to vote on that.  Howell explained that a number must be in the budget.  Kline added that the salary is set not by the BoS but by the Elected Auditors.  They will meet on January 8th at 8:00 PM to do that.  Hanks asked too, about the standing committees in particular, the Parks & Recreation committee because there will be three Supervisors in attendance.  She wondered if that would be a Sunshine Law violation.  Kline explained that because the meetings are advertised and open to the public, the meetings are not in violation.  Nicholas added that there are no decisions made at the meetings.  The committees are advisory only.  The meeting schedules are listed on the Township website.  The schedule was set during the Re-Organization meeting.  Lastly, Hanks asked if meeting agendas could be online by Wednesday morning before Thursday meetings.  Nicholas said that she will address that issue at the Finance & Administration committee meeting.


2008 Board & Commission Member Appointments / Discussion - Howell began by asking about the Zoning Hearing Board's February schedule.  Two sessions have been set but only one was on the township website calendar.  Kline said that the February 11th session is a continuation of the substantive challenge.  Weis said that the February 18th hearing will be the first for the procedural challenge (large file).  Because of these upcoming hearings, Howell felt that the Zoning Hearing Board appointment is a priority and someone should be appointed on January 17th (after the interviews).   

Chuss made a motion that the seven candidates for the three positions be interviewed beginning at 5:30 PM on January 17th, that the ZHB slot be filled at the regular BoS meeting on January 17th, that the rest of the vacancies be filled at the February 7th BoS meeting, and that the Planning Commission participate in the PC applicant interviews and make a recommendation (first choice and alternates) to the BoS.  At a 7:00 PM workshop before the February 7th regular meeting, the Board will discuss the candidates.  This passed 4:1 (Egolf cast the nay vote.  He objected to the length/complexity of the motion). 

The interviews will be open to the public but not to the other candidates.  Interview appointment times will be given to the candidates so that they are not sitting and waiting for 1-1/2 hours in the lobby for their turns before the Board.

The PC will develop its recommendation(s) at its January 22nd workshop.  

There was no Executive Session and the first meeting of 2008 was adjourned.

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